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Crews complete $25 million Bay Bridge fix

While we’ve all been dumbstruck by its shiny beauty, the structural integrity of the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge left something to be desired.

But that’s all water under the bridge, now that a $25 million fix wrapped up Wednesday.

The crew finished before midday, turning the final screw in the last of the 142 concrete-encased steel rope tendons inside giant fabricated steel saddles.

This complicated outfitting replaces the clamping force that was lost when the galvanized steel rods snapped in “critical seismic stabilizers” just east of the main tower months ago, nearly delaying the Labor Day opening of the new span.

Getting a mental image yet? Me neither. What’s important to walk away with is that yes, the bridge is now safe, and the embarrassing fiasco is over. Sort of.

Of course, the engineers who designed the bridge are still in the hot seat. Hearings are scheduled in Sacramento in early 2014 to hash out just why the span was so late and the cost swelled to five times the originally estimated cost.

As one of the largest and most expensive public works projects in state history, the $6.4 billion span has been designed with protections against collapse or destruction which remain sound even during a big earthquake.

The bridge was designed to meet California’s most robust seismic standards, which means that it needs to remain open or reopen within hours following the strongest quake engineers predict in the next 1,500 years

Before we close the book on the Bay Bridge’s woes, we need to figure out just what went wrong, says Senate Transportation and Housing Committee Chairman Mark DeSaulnier.

DeSaulnier wants to have at least two Bay Bridge investigatory hearings doing just that, as well as looking into making sure we got our money’s worth.

Additionally, a fleet of Georgian Institute of Technology and UC Berkeley civil and environmental engineers will analyze different structural aspects of the Bay Bridge over the next few months.

Lastly, Caltrans will finalize a long-term maintenance program next year.

Well, she still looks beautiful.

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